Shelley was an anarchic, fragile, solitary soul fulminating against priests, kings, and merchants, urging the utopian regeneration of mankind. Arnold, spokesman of the middle class, politely dismissed him as an ""ineffectual angel,"" and moderns such as Auden have been even sniffier: ""How glad I am that the silliest remark ever made about poets, 'the unacknowledged legislators of the world,' was made by a poet whose work I detest."" Recent criticism, however, has tended to acknowledge his lyric eminence and more or less vindicate the mythmaking and visionary epics. The long, tortuous, barely readable essay by Professor Rieger is surely a marvel of neo-Shelleyan scholarship, but who outside of doctoral candidates will ever manage to get through its pages? Certainly the author has done an awesomely close burrowing into the variety of heresies--pagan, Gnostic, Zoroastrian, Ophite, Manichean--which inspired in fragmentary and confused fashion his creative energies, as well as isolating the philosophical, theological, and political components behind his thinking. Unfortunately, for paragraphs on end, one erudite Rieger twinkle inevitably turns into a referential constellation, blinding to the eye, smog-ridden for the mind. Nor is the clinically ambivalent tone helpful; and how antipathetic the disguised complex moralizing on ""love-death metaphor,"" incest, vanity, and so on. Prodigously cadaverous research.